A record number of homes are proposed for green belt land, according to new research
The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has published a report showing that 459,000 homes are proposed in local plans for plots released from the protected rings around cities.
Green belt land – established in 1955 to prevent urban sprawl – can only be developed if planning committees are convinced of exceptional circumstances or councils can justify its release.
The CPRE’s report, The State of the Green Belt, reveals that the number of homes earmarked in local plans for these protected zones has rocketed from 81,000 in 2012 to more than five times that figure today.
The campaigning body said that only about a fifth of the homes proposed would be classed as affordable.
East of England is set to get the most green belt homes, according to the study, at 99,009, closely followed by the North West’s 97,198.
Some 72,711 residential units are planned for the protected zone around London, but just 13,825 in the North East.
Tom Fyans, director of campaigns and policy at the CPRE, said: ‘The government is failing in its commitment to protect the green belt. It is being eroded at an alarming rate.
‘But it is essential, if the green belt is to fulfil its main purposes and provide 30 million of us with access to the benefits of the countryside, that the redevelopment of brownfield land is prioritised, and green belt protection strengthened.’
TV architecture enthusiast George Clarke took to social media to say that mass building of ‘noddy box houses’ on green belt land was ‘so stupid I can hardly find the words to describe how angry and upsetting this makes me feel’.
He added: ‘Where is the long-term plan? Where is the clever design thinking? What’s the strategy for building beautiful affordable homes for the next 30 years? There isn’t one!’
A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesperson said: ’We are clear that building the homes our country needs does not mean tearing up our countryside.
’Last year the number of new homes built was the highest in a decade, and only 0.02 per cent of the Green Belt was developed for residential use.
’We are adding more certainty to the planning system and our new planning rulebook strengthens national protections for the Green Belt, and says that councils may only alter boundaries in exceptional circumstances once they have looked at all other options.’